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Thursday, May 20

Warnings on mobile phones needed

The Green Party is calling for health warnings on mobile phone packaging in the light of findings from the Interphone Study which shows extended use of mobile phones may increase the risk of brain tumours.

The international 10-year study released today relied on peoples’ recollection of how much they used mobile phones. It primarily concentrated on brain tumours.

Green Party Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley said New Zealanders have one of the highest uptakes of mobile phones in the OECD. 

“Millions of New Zealanders use mobile phones, and many use them for hours every day. Yet most are oblivious to the potential health risks of long term cell phone use,” Ms Kedgley said.

“A prominent warning label on all mobile phone packaging would alert people to these risks.”

Ms Kedgley said the research found that people who use their cell phones for more than 30 minutes a day are at increased risk of developing brain tumours. 

“This means that thousands of high users in New Zealand are at risk, and they have a right to know this.”

Ms Kedgley is also calling for information about the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of a cell phone — a measure of the rate at which electromagnetic radiation is absorbed by the body — to be clearly indicated on a label. 

“At present the SAR rating is buried in the instruction manual,” Ms Kedgley said. 

“This means New Zealanders are not being informed about the risk.

Ms Kedgley pointed out that the Interphone study findings have been delayed from public release for almost five years, as scientists wrangled about how to present their findings. 

“We cannot allow vested interests in the cell phone industry to downplay the very clear public health risks to a population which uses cell phones so extensively," Ms Kedgley said.